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House Numbering. 



Ai-THfiu OK -'A Systkji of Phonic Writing," "A System or 

Phonoscuipt and Phonotypy.' "A System of 

Phonography," Etc. 


1894. . 







Author of " A System of Phonic Writing," " A System of 

Phonoscript and Phonotypy," " A System of 

Phonography," Etc. 











The articles in the following pages were orig- 
inally published— subtantiall}' as now presented 

in the Chicago Herald and the Chicago Inter Ocean 
under the dates given. They were the result of 
careful thought, at intervals, from the latter part of 
October, 1889, to the date of the last one in May, 
1892. The idea of inventing a system for locating 
the houses of the city was first suggested to the writer 
by seeing in the newspapers— about the last week of 
October, 1889— notices of the work of the commit- 
tee appointed by an order of the Common Council 
of the city of Chicago, "to correct the street nomen- 
clature and the numbering of the houses." In 
January, 1890, the committee submitted its report 
to the council, bearing date of November 18th, 1889. 
It was not adopted. In addition much condemna- 
tion was passed— outside of the council— upon the 
committee for changing the name of one end of 
CA^ery thoroughfare running north and south, as 
well as for the cumbersome system of numbering 
of the houses presented; which condemnation was 
unjust (unintentionally, of course.) since the sub- 
ject upon which the committee was engaged is one 
of the most recondite and perplexing In modern 

At the time the committee submitted its report it 
was considered xery essential that the prefixes 
north, south, east and west should be abolished. 
The only way to do this, if at all, is by the method 
proposed by the committee; namel}-, by adopting 
different names for each end of the thoroughfares. 
Again the system of numbering submitted is not a 
whit more cumbersome or unwield}- than the Phila- 
delphia one now in use, south of One Hundredth 
street, and is far more definitive inasmuch as it indi- 
cates distance exactly. All five figured systems, 
however, are too cumbersome and confusing, either 
for speech or legibleness. Neither is it possible to 
abolish the prefixes, as will be apparent, no doubt, 
after a perusal of the following pages. The com- 
mittee was a very able one and did a great deal 
better than could naturally be expected under the 
circumstances, and in the light of subsequent 
research. Its report will prove xery useful to any 
subsequent committee that may be appointed, 
especially if it has to take up the matter of chang- 
ing duplicate names of thoroughfares — which 
duplications should never be permitted in any city- — 
since it contains a thesaurus of appropriate names, 
historical and otherwise. Thus much of the labor 
and expense of selecting such titles can in the future 
be avoided. The following is the wording of the 
committee on this point: 

"In selecting the new names necessary, your 
committee took them from the names of cities and 
towns in Illinois, and the United States ; names of 
Generals in the late war; ex-Mayors of Chicago, and 
other notables in and out of the city. " 

When the first three articles following were writ- 
ten, the Philadelphia system of numbering was 
supposed to be the best. After he has perused the 
fourth article, and what follows, it is left to the 

judgment of the reader whether it is or not. The 
mile scheme therein presented can be applied to a 
city of any size. It can also be employed for num- 
bering country houses after the city limits are 
passed, as far as may be desirable, and still retain 
four figures, by taking each section of twent}' miles 
and giving it a letter; as Al, A 350, A 525, A 7500, 
A 9999 ; B 1, B 350, etc. Thus A 525 South State, 
etc. , would be one mile and 25tli house number in 
the first twenty mile section south of the city limits. 
B 525 South State, etc., would be in the second 
twenty mile section, and so on for C in the third 
twenty mile section, etc. Or five figures could be 
used as at present south of One Hundreth street; 
thus 17528 would be thirty-five miles and 28th 
house number. But then five figures, as said above, 
should not be adopted. 

In thus calling attention to the deficiencies of the 
Philadelphia plan, the writer is influenced onl}' by 
the best motives. He does not advocate a too 
sudden change. If any be made it can be done 
with proper slowness and corresponding safety, so 
as not to interfere with business interests or jeopar- 
dize real estate transfers; for houses and lots are 
very often designated by their numbers in such 
transactions. One thing is certain ; the Philadelphia 
plan is not universal. New York has not adopted 
it, for which action or non-action she surely has a 

The publication of the articles in their present 
form, with the addition after the fourth one, was 
suggested more than a yeav and a half ago b}' meet- 
ing with articles on an allied subject in the Chicago 
City Library. Special attention is directed to two 
of these. One is in reference to thoroughfare 
nomenclature in London — changing duplicate names, 
also giving the meaning of the terms rows, places, 


terraces, etc. The name of this author is to the 
writer unKnown. The other is in reference to the 
naming of thoroughfares in Boston, Mass., and is 
by the well-known author, James Freeman Clarke. 
Their titles and where they maj' be found, are as 
follows: "Giving Ones Address," by * ** * Cham- 
bers' Journal, September 23, 18G5, page 606; "On 
Giving Names to Towns and Streets," by J. F. 
Clarke, Christian Examiner, Januar}', 1869, page 
19. These articles should be read by every one 
having the time and opportunity who takes pride in 
the advancement of the city in which he resides and 
who may be called upon to consider the questions 
therein discussed. 

The writer here dismisses the matter with the 
hope that the present pamphlet — which is the result 
of some years of reflection — may be found useful 
and that the novelty of the propositions it contains, 
may not deter any one from giving them the closest 

Chicago, Felmiary 6th, 1894. 




Thoroughfare Terming 



Street Nomenclature. 

Chicago, October 7th, 1890.— Editor of The Her- 
ald: I see that the committee ou street nomenclature 
has adopted the decimal system of numbering for the 
city. The committe has also suggested that all thor- 
oughfares running east and west be called avenues 
and all north and south be called streets. This lat- 
ter idea is good, as far as it goes, and is perfectly 
suited to a city that has only one base line, thus giv- 
ing onl}' two divisions, either north and south or east 
and west, but it is not logically' suited to one that 
has two base lines, as Chicago has, viz.: A north 
and south one, Michigan avenue, and an east and 
west one, Kinzie street, as suggested by the commit- 
tee, thus giving Chicago four divisions, namel}', 
north, south, east and west. For this reason — 
because of the two base lines, east and west, north 

and south — wliercver tlie council may finality decide 
to run them, two more teclinical terms should be 
used to designate the thoroughfares, which terms 
would express both direction and location. As it is 
now, when called only avenues and streets, these 
terms simply express direction — namely, east and 
west or north and south— wdiereas, if two more 
terms were added, say roads and ways, we C'ould 
express also the location of each thoroughfare in the 
city, and thus extend the system of numbering of 
the thoroughfares to all sides of it, which can be 
done in no other way, and all the thoroughfares 
thus be simpl}' and accurately designated. Let the 
thoroughfares running east and west on the north 
side of the east and west base line, for example, be 
called roads, and those east and west on the south 
side of it be called ways; those north and south on 
the west side of the north and south ))ase line be 
called streets, and those north and south on the east 
side of it l)e callefl a\'enues, AVe should thus have 
only four technical terms for the large and long 
thoroughfares; and they would be very easily re- 
membered. We would then have, for example, Chicago 
or Belden road, Randolph or Madison way, Halsted 
or Ashland street, and ^Michigan or Prairie avenue, 
and, using the decimal s3-stem of numbering, -we 
would have 1421 East or West Chicago road 
or Madison way, or the same or any number 
for North or South Halsted street or Michigan 
avenue, should the latter be continued north of 
the river, and the exact location of any residence in 
its particular quarter of the city would be expressed 
at once. Another advantage, as stated above, and 
not the least one in ray opinion, would be that the 
thoroughfares could be numbered on all sides of the 
city, and not merely on one side, as at present. We 
would, for example, have Twenty-first road, way, 


street or avenue, and a residence or business house 
could thus be still more accurately defined than by 
the mere naming, such as State, Michigan, etc. , and 
would do for those thoroughfares that are away 
from the business centre of the city, and could be 
used for all time, no matter how great the city 
might grow — say one hundred miles on either side 
the base lines, or two hundred miles from end to 
end each way. We would have, for example, 1421 
or 11421 or 91421 East or West Madison way or Chi- 
cago road, or the same numbers for East or West Four- 
teenth, One Hundred and Fourteenth or Nine Hundred 
and Fourteenth way or road, and also for North or 
South Kedzie street or Michigan avenue, or Four- 
teenth, One Hundred and Fourteenth or Nine 
Hundred and Fourteenth street or avenue. Thus 
the problem of naming and numbering the houses 
and thoroughfares of a world metropolis, such as 
Chicago is destined to be, would, in my opinion, be 
completely and satisfactorily solved. A person who 
had never seen Chicago could tell exactly where a 
residence or place of business was situated and go 
to it without a guide the moment he arrived in the 
city, and from the decimal system of numbering 
would know beforehand which side of the street, 
avenue, road or way it was on and the number of 
houses it was from the corner or cross thoroughfare. 
This S3'stem could also be used for a village and also 
for country houses on the thoroughfares or pikes after 
they extended bej-ond the limits of the city within the 
district supplied b}' it, for 100 miles on each side of 
the two base lines. W^hat a great benefit would 
such a system of nomenclature and numbering be to 
the visitors to the World's Fair. This system of 
nomenclature would be the logical sequence of two 
base lines, one north and south and one east and 
west. We should thus have a better system than 


New York, which has onlj' streets and avenues, thus, 
expressing only direction, and make one more move 
toward becoming the leading city of the hemisphere 
and perhaps of the world. 



To Drop Them Would Lead to Endless Confu- 
sion — Nothing Can or Will Prevent the 
Public Using Them. 

Chicago. October 31st, 1890. — Editor of the 
Herald: On page 4 of the report of the committee on 
street nomenclature it is stated that it was "decided 
to abolish all east and west as well as north and south 
prefixes." Is it necessary or even desirable to 
abolish them? The facts are that many letters go 
to one end of a thoroughfare when they should go to 
the other. This comes from omitting — through 
what intention is known to the persons themselves — 
a prefix for one end of a thoroughfare and inserting 
it only for the other. There is no reason for this, 
since none can exist for calling a half of a thing b}^ 
its whole name. A person on North State street 
considers his end as important as the south end. 
The fact is that all ends of thoroughfares should be 
called either north, south, east or west, and the 
term should never be omitted at any time any more 
than it should when speaking or writing of the 
North, South, East or West sides. Each end of 
every thoroughfare should take its name from the 


side of the city it is on. Tliis, it will be found, will 
settle the whole question. If we cease giving one 
.end of a thoroughfare the name for its full length, 
but give it always its half name, which properly 
belongs to it, no trouble can ever ensue, and this 
the people will do in every instance the moment they 
understond the reason for it Confused ideas have 
hitherto existed on this subject, but should not exist 
an}' longer, and if this plan is adopted I venture 
to sa}' that a letter will not come mailed 
to the whole of a thoroughfare instead of its part 
once in a 3'ear, and if it does it will be by mistake, 
which will occur in any system, but, I believe, less 
by this one than an}' other. There will be a north, 
south, east or M'est inward or outward end of every 
thoroughfare, no matter what system is adopted, 
the same as there is a center and a circumference. 
It is useless and a defiance of facts to endeavor to 
get rid of these prefixes — except hy too cumbersome 
and arbitrary methods, and even then errors will 
occur — either in writing or conversation, where 
precise location is desired to be expressed. If a 
system should be adopted, abolishing them as pre- 
fixes, it will be on]}' a question of time when they 
will be used again as affixes, and always spelled in 
full, and thus be longer, for initials as affixes will 
not do. In fact, they are using affixes now. So 
nothing whatever will be gained, but much will be 
lost, for affixes are far more liable to be dropped 
than prefixes, and are not nearly so good or idiomatic. 
Affixes are used in London, which has a poor kind 
of a system, perhaps the poorest in the world. I 
think the above is inevitable, for people will, in 
their anxiety for quick and safe transit by mail, 
either prefix or affix the term. We cannot abolish 
these terms and still indicate to everyone the precise 
ends of the thoroughfares. They (the prefixes and 


affixes) are and should be considered as a part of 
the names. If abolished, they should be indicated 
either in the name, number or term, and this cannot 
be done except bj' too cumbersome and arbitrary 
methods, and would not be clear enough in conver- 
sation or for general use. A perfect s^'stem should 
apply ]30th in writing and speaking, and this I 
believe the use of prefixes does, and is the shortest 
way of all in the end. 

We cannot abolish the prefixes and affixes any 
more than we can the four cardinal points them- 
selves. The idea of precise location at all points 
must be indicated, or the S3'stem will be radically 
defective, and it would take mnemonics to remem- 
ber which name designates the north or south, east 
or west end of every thoroughfare. A thoroughfare 
name either on mail matter or on a sign or in 
speech, without anything about it to tell at which 
point of the compass the end of the thoroughfare is 
situated, is purel}" an arbitrary name and cannot be 
used for a guide either in speech or writing, except 
by a prodigious effort of the memor}' or knowledge, 
because north, south, east and west as precise loca- 
tions would not be considered ; they would be aV)ol- 
ished. The trouble is that the people, both high 
and low, will use the identical terms north, south, 
east and west, no matter what system is adopted, 
and nothing can or will prevent them. It is a law 
of the human mind to use them. If it were not so 
there would be no north, south, east or west. When 
we got down to the pure things north, south, east 
or west, we are down to the elementary principles 
themselves and they must be known and by tliese 
terms only. A line or point must have both a 
north and south, east and west end or side of it. So 
the prefixes and affixes cannot be gotten rid of, no 
matter what system is used; nor is it desirable. If 


not used iii mail matter or on signs they will be 
used in speech, whereas they should be used in both. 
Of course they will be sometimes omitted in both by 
persons familiar with the city or the system ; as, for 
example, in the expression, "on the corner of 
Michigan avenue or Ashland street and Harrison 
wa}';"' but even then avenue, etc., indicate north, 
south, east or west. So the principle still remains 
that these terms should as a principle be always re- 
tained. The}' cannot be gotten rid of or indicated 
indirectly when pure, single location is to be ex- 
pressed any more than a person can divide a thing 
into two halves and still call it a whole, or say that 
each half is the whole, or call two ends of a stick 
a stick and indicate which end is meant, or indis- 
criminately call both ends north ends and still ex- 
pect discrimination. Naming one end of a thorough- 
fare Clarendon avenue and the other Halstead ave- 
nue is the same as calling each end by the term 
north end, for mere names are like similar terms, 
for the reason that they become confused when 
their association is forgotten. The name of 
the thing itself, when the end of it is meant, 
must have the prefix belonging to that end, 
xmd nothing else will do. Otherwise the whole system 
will be an arbitrary one pure and simple and never 
be remembered. How diflferent would be the case 
were proper technical terms to be used and the 
far-awa}' thoroughfares on every side of the city 
numbered in their regular order! No matter how 
fascinating or satisfactory such a scheme may at 
first appear, it will not work in practice. Travelers 
and inhabitants will have to be considered as well 
as the mail or business. In fact, business people 
would be the very first to object to it if ]nit in 
practice, for it is one thing to mail a letter the 
delivery of which depends upon the skill and knowl- 


edge of the postoffice, and quite another to direct a 
driver to a thoroughfare, the name of which gives 
no indication of its exact location. It would do for 
the postoffice but not for the business world or the 
masses, both of whom are in close communication 
every day, either by advertisements or in person. 
No single hackman or driver could be found who 
would know the city thoroughly. 

By adopting two more technical terms for the 
large and long thoroughfares and two for example, 
terraces and mews for the short ones and two for 
the diagonal ones, say courses and aisles, using, if 
necessary, pikes and lanes for the large and small 
thoroughfares in the country on all sides of the city, 
as, for example, South Halsted street pike or North 
Peabody place lane or South (or Southwest) Colum- 
bus course pike or North (or Northwest) Milwaukee 
course pike or South Archer aisle pike, and always 
using the prefixes north, south, east and west or 
their initials, all difficulty would be obviated and 
the whole city would be known as well as an}' part 
of it. No two terms should have the same initials, 
phonetic or otherwise, except west and wa}'. The 
old names of the thoroughfares need not be changed 
except where the}' are similar and they could run 
from one end of the city to the other. How much 
better would this be than that of London, which has 
more than thirty terms of distinction without order 
or plan! Truly, then would the human mind easily 
grasp the maze of thoroughfares of this mighty city! 
Abolishing the prefixes and affixes for the pure, 
single locations of north, south, east and west is 
one of those propositions like squaring the circle, 
or perpetual motion, or making gravity raise equal 
gravity without a leverage. It is one of those mys- 
teries of nature that is beyond our powers, and 
shows once again that man in the presence of his 
Creator is as nothino-. 


In addition to the above we could use the term 
Boulevard for thoroughfares when they become such ; 
as Belden road boulevard, Michigan avenue boule- 
vard, Garfield way boulevard, Ashland street boule- 

The following article shows that the Philadelphia 
system of numbering in its entirety, that is from 
number 1 upward, is preferable to the one offered 
on page 6 of the report of the committee on street 
nomenclature November 18th, 1889, where the 
block system is attempted to be applied to the mile 
section lines, which is cumbersome and impractica- 

House and Street Numbering. 

Chicago, February 7th, 1891. — Editor of the 
Herald: A great deal has been said on thorough- 
fare nomenclature, but not so much on house and 
thoroughfare numbering. The decimal s3-stem as 
applied in Philadelphia is a very definitive one, inas- 
much as the number on the house indicates both 
the distance in blocks of the adjoining thorough- 
fare from a base line, as well as the number 
in regular order of the house itself from the 
thoroughfare. This distance being in blocks is 
not an accurate measurement for the reason that 
some blocks are longer than others. It 
is clear then that the Philadelphia system is 
not one of measurement of exact length per se, 
nor intended so to be, but only of approximate 
measurement. If blocks were laid out ten to 
a mile every ten completed blocks would be a 
mile. Thus 1428 would be not only fourteen blocks 


and 28th- house number but also one mile, four 
blocks, etc. Of course every one will believe that 
if such a system of exact mile measurement were 
possible it would be a most excellent one, but then 
it would simply be a natural sequence of the block 
system. If the blocks were not exactly ten to a mile 
the thoroughfares, to always indicate this distance, 
could not be numbered without a break or so in 
each mile. If there were onl}- eight thoroughfares, 
say from Twentieth to Thirtieth street. Twenty- 
seventh would be followed immediately by Thirtieth, 
because the latter street would have to begin in 
order to indicate the completed mile, and the num- 
bers ou the houses would have to agree with those 
of the thoroughfares. A like thing would be the 
case on those thoroughfares not numljered. For 
example, 2742 the last number in the block, would 
be followed immediately by by 3001 the first num- 
ber in the next block. These breaks would not be 
very pleasant to the people. The system would 
thus be too cumbersome, whether the thoroughfares 
were numbered or named. 

I understand that the object of a system of num- 
bering for houses and thoroughfares is to designate 
them so that they can be easily found and not so 
much to exactly measure distance as to indicate 
location in numerical order. Of course distance 
will naturally be considered, but then it should 
always be a sequence or secondary consideration. 
If the city is laid out so that this numbering can 
also indicate the distance in miles, well and good, 
but if not, such indication should be dropped. The 
Philadelphia method of applying the decimal s^'stem, 
the way cities are usually laid out, is, as was said 
above, a very definitive one. It should, however, 
in Chicago, be extended still further than it is, 
namely from number 1 up the same as counting 


cents and dollars. We could thus begin at the base 
line, giving it a name. The first house number 
would be 1 and the last 100, if the blocks were large 
enough, thus giving 100 house numbers to a block. 
The first thoroughfare from the base line would be 
No. 1. The first house in the second block 101, op- 
posite 102 and the last 200 ; the second thoroughfare 
2 and so on. Thitj would be an improvement 
on the Philadelphia system, because we would 
have small decimal numbers in the business dis- 
trict. By adopting the Philadelphia plan of 
block measurement contradistinguished from mile 
measurement — thus doing awa}' with the rigid 
and arbitrar}' section line system, in the particular 
manner proposed by the committee, which is not 
necessary either to Chicago or any other city, and 
is so cumbersome as to be very impracticable — 
Sedgwick street, the South Branch, the Pittsburg, 
FortWa3'ne and Chicago Railroad track, and Stewart 
avenue could be taken for the north and south base 
line. This would be by far the best place for it and 
would agree with the old landmarks of the cit}'. 
The heaviest business is done from about Clark 
street to the South Branch, and for the same 
distance on the West Side, Most of the newspapers 
are there, the board of trade, wholesale district, 
grain elevators, cold storage house, the big hotels, 
cit}' and county buildings, etc. The main river and 
Fulton street would be the best east and west line. 
The small numbers would extend for about a mile 
on each side of either line, and more of them would 
be in the heart of the business district than if the 
north and south base line were to be at State street 
or Michigan avenue, as proposed by the committee. 
The decimal sj'stem can be applied to South State 
street from the river to Twelfth, without changing 
the names of any of the east and west thorough- 


fares. This is evident by dividing 12 by 8. Tlie 
quotient 1^ indicates very closely the real distance 
from the river base line. If it can be applied to 
South State street it can also to any other thorough- 
fare in the city, as some of the blocks between 
the river and Twelfth street are very long. 

By using the Philadelphia plan thus in its entirety, 
that is from number 1 upward, for numbering, 
and the terms roads, ways, streets, avenues and 
the prefixes north, south, east and west, no person 
acquainted with the system need ever go to the 
directory to find either a house or a thoroughfare. 
The prefixes, terming and numbering would consti- 
tute an ever open directory of themselves, plain, 
unwavering and true. 


A Scheme Proposed Showing Location and Dis- 
tance ALL AT Once. 

Chicago, May loth, 1S92.— Editor of the Inter 
Ocean: Of the manj' systems of numbering for the 
city that have been offered, it has generally been 
assumed that the one called the Philadelphia, or 
block system, is the best. But is it really the best? 
In small or medium sized cities where the numbered 
thoroughfares do not go above 100, and consequently 
the house numbers above four figures, say 9947, 
it works well enough; but in cities as large as New 
York and Chicago, where the numbered thorough- 
fares run over 100 — New York, One Hundred and 
Seventy-first street, and Chicago, One Hundred and 
Thirty-eighth street — will it not prove too cumber- 


some, from the fact that five figures, say 13825, will 
then have to be used? In view of this fact it might 
be well to abolish the block scheme and adopt another 
one, namely a mile system, using 500 numbers to 
each mile, as follows: 

Let the river and Fulton street and a line running 
west where Fulton street would be if continued, be 
the east and west base line ; and Sedgwick street, 
the South Branch, the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and 
Chicago Railway track and Stewart avenue the 
north and south one. Starting at the river base line 
and going south we could number the houses from 
one up in their regular order without reference to the 
blocks until we come to Madison street, the first 
section line. Beginning at Madison street with the 
number 500 and numbering in the same manner till 
we come to Twelfth street, we would commence there 
with the number 1000. Likewise at Twenty-second 
street with 1500; at Thirty-first street with 2000, 
and so on till we exhausted the four figures, which 
would be at 9999 or one number less than 10000, 
which consists or five figures. 

Likewise going north we could start at the river 
with 1 and number up to Chicago avenue, where we 
would commence with the number 500; at North 
avenue with 1000; at FuUerton avenue with 1500; 
at Belmont avenue with 2000, and so on. Starting 
at the South Branch in the same manner and going 
east we would begin at State street, the first section 
line, with 500; at Cottage Grove avenue with 1000; 
at Stony Island avenue with 1500; at Juniata avenue 
with 2000, and so on. 

In the same manner going west from the South 
Branch, beginning with 1, we would commence at 
Halsted street with 500; at Ashland avenue with 
1000; at Western avenue with 1500; at Kedzie 
avenue with 2000, and so on. Each house number 


would then contain its exact distance within a l)lock 
or two from a base line and it could be at once 
known by diA'iding the number by iive. Thus No. 
7000 would be fourteen miles, No. 7847 fifteen miles 
and 347th house number or nearly fifteen and three- 
fourths miles; No. 8500 would be seventeen miles 
and so on till the number 9999 was reached — if the 
cit}' ever grew so large — which would be nineteen 
miles, 499th house number, or practically speaking, 
twenty miles. 

Thus this system would give the distance fully as 
exactlj' as the block or Philadelphia one, and still 
keep us within four figures, and would in all proba- 
bility suffice for all time to come. It would extend 
south beyond One Hundred and Thirty-Eighth 
street — the present city limits — three miles, or as 
great a distance as between Madison and Tliirt}'- 
First streets. There is no mile district in the city 
that would take 500 numbers. No street names nor 
street numbers would have to be changed and the 
small house numbers of one, two and three figures 
would extend a mile and a half on each side of the 
base lines or three miles each Avay in the heart of the 
city before the four figures commenced. 

This would be an improvement on the numbering 
of New York because it would be more systematic 
and also measure distance, which the New York 
plan does not do. 

We could use the terms roads, ways, streets, and 
avenues on the four sides of the city and number 
them, and thus also preserve exact locality. For 
instance. No. 3500 Michigan avenue would be at the 
seventh east and west section line on the southeast 
side of the city, or seven miles, and be at Fifty- 
fifth street. The same would be the case with an}- 
other number, say No. 12G7 West Monroe way or 
No. 1267 West Twenty-First way, which would be 


two miles, and the 267th house number, or a little 
more than half way between Ashland avenue and 
Western avenue, or two and one-half miles on a 
thoroughfare running east and west on the south- 
west side of the city. 

If we wished to be still more exact we could sub- 
tract the half mile between the South Branch or its 
continued line and Halsted street, thus making the 
distance two miles. The same process could be 
followed for the half mile between the river and 
Madison street. 

Thus distance and localit}- would be preserved in 
every address, and the numbering would extend in 
round numbers twenty miles from the base lines or 
fort}^ miles from end to end each way, and no more 
than four figures would ever have to be used. 

The mile scheme last above, will, with the same 
number of figures, whether few or great, number a 
city twice as large as will the Philadelphia plan and 
measure distance far more accurately. In addition 
the house numbers will follow as close together as 
they do in the Philadelphia plan, where the}' some- 
times run considerably less than 100 in each 
block. In the mile system there would be no 
greater breaks, if as great, between one mile section 
and the next one following than there is between one 
block and the next one in the Philadelphia S3-stem. 

In the mile scheme the numbered thoroughfares, 
of course, would not coincide with the numbers on the 
houses, but as usually no gains can ever be secured 
an5"where without some corresponding losses, we must 
throw away this advantage in consideration of the 
great gain of four figures. The house and thor- 
oughfare numbers do not coincide in New York, 
and need not in Chicago. 

In the case of diagonal thoroughfares like Ogden, 
Milwaukee and Archer, the numbers sometimes 
run over 500. but these thoroughfares being 
eccentrics the houses need not be numbered accord- 
ing to the S3'stem, but simply in their regular order. 
If the numbers threatened to exceed four figures 
the names of these thoroughfares could be changed 
either where the figures ran out or at some turn. 
But this probably would never occur, as it will be 
found that no diagonal thoroughfare will ever ex- 
tend for twenty miles in a straight line within the 
city limits. The house numbers on the right angled 
cross thoroughfares at their junctions with the di- 
agonals would show the distance from the base lines 
anyhow. So the system may be dispensed with on 
the diagonals. Besides the directory would give the 
means of finding the distance of any number on a 
diagonal thoroughfare and the wayfarer would only 
have to turn the corner — as the corner house would 
have both numbers. Even if the mile numbers on 
the diagonal thoroughfares did coincide with the 
mile numbers on the right angle I ones it would not 
be a true measure of distance, because tjtc distance 
on a diagonal thoroughfare between the mile section 
lines is longer than on the right angled ones. This 
is the case in any system. In some instances they 
would nearl}' coincide. Thus on Blue Island avenue 
between Twelfth and Twenty-second streets, the 
numbers reach 502 and if n^^mbered according to 
the system might be 1000 to 1500 . But then, as said 
above, this distance is more than a mile, although 
the 1000 and 1500 might coincide with the 
1000 and 1500 an Ashland avenue, where the 
numbers reach 402 and the distance is a mile. So 
it would be a very easy matter on diagonal 
thoroughfares either to divide into mile distances, 
letting the mile numbers come where they will or 


else to number in regular order without indicating 
the miles. The rest of the cit}- would have the 
mile distances and thus be accurately measured, which 
would be very convenient for the public. A person 
on a diagonal thoroughfare would in any event al- 
ways know between wdiat two mile sections lie was 
situated and accordingly his distance from the base 

In conclusion, the writer believes that the city of 
Chicago will eventually find five figures for house 
numbering too cumbersome and confusing. She will 
then resort to a system embracing four figures. 
There are only two methods: the one in New York, 
which numbers consecutively without reference to 
distance, and the one last above proposed. By 
adopting the New York plan, Chicago can be num- 
bered for twenty-five miles from a base line; but 
then neither distance nor location, but only numerical 
order would be indicated. By adopting the mile 
system herein proposed, twenty miles could be 
numbered, and both the distance and location 
accurately designated!'' Would it not be much 
better, all other things ultimately being equal, to 
have a sy stern that will indicate distance and loca- 
tion, than one which will not? With the belief that 
this question will finally be answered in the affirma- 
tive, the subject is left to the mature consideration 
of the reader. 




Thoroughfare Terming 


Cardinal Prefixes and Affixes are Abolished, 

Chicago, Juue 19th, 1901. — From this eveiiing's 
papers it appears that the subject of Thoroughfare 
Terming and House Numbering is before the city 
council again and that the Committee on Nomencla- 
tui'e would abolish the cardinal terms East and "West. 
I believe that all of them, namely, North, South, 
East and West can be abolished and herewith submit 
the following plan: 

Let the river and Fulton street and a line running 
west where Fulton street would be if continued, be 
the east and west base line ; and Sedgwick street, the 
South Branch, the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago 
Railway track and Stewart avenue the north and 
south one . Then let the west end of the east and 
west base line be called Inter and the east end of the 
same line be termed Mid ; liut as the latter is the river 
and can not be used as a thoroughfare, let the term 

be applied to North and South ^\'ater streets. ^Ye 
would then have Fulton inter and North or South 
Water mid. Again let the south and north ends of 
the north and south base line be, .respectively, called 
Div and Parter. We would then have Stewart or 
East or (say) West Water div and Sedgwick parter. 

Now let the west and east ends of the thorough- 
fares running east and west on the north side of the 
east and west base line be called Lanes and Roads 
respectively and the same ends of the similar 
thoroughfares on the south side of the base line be 
called Courses and Ways. We would then have 
Huron lane or road and Madison (or Twelfth) course 
or way. In addition let the south and north ends 
of the thoroughfares running north and south on the 
west side of the north and south base line be termed 
Streets and Aisles respectively and the same ends 
of the similar thoroughfares on the east side of the 
base line be termed Avenues and Terraces. We 
would then have Halsted street or aisle and State 
avenue or terrace. 

If we appl}' the same system to the diagonal 
thoroughfares we would have the terms Bev (bevel) 
and Veer for the northwest and southeast ends re- 
spectively and Obe and Erv (oblique and ervia 
[err-A'ia]) for the southwest and northeast ends. 
We would then have Milwaukee bev or Cottage 
Grove veer and Ogden obe or erv. 

By the above scheme all the large thoroughfares 
of the city would be more accurately and at the 
same time briefly located than by any other method, 
besides avoiding a change of names. Furthermore 
the simple cardinal prefixes or affixes would be 
abolished. Nevertheless they would be retained in 
another and preferable form, since each term would 
contain two meanings; as for example the term 
Road, which indicates the east end of a thorough- 
fare on the north side of the city. In addition to 
the preceding we could use the term Boulevard for 

the tboroughfares when the}' become such, as Bel- 
•cleu lane (or road) boulevard. Michigan avenue 
boulevard, etc. , while in all cases the term Thorough- 
Tarelwould be general, as at present, and apph' to 
«ach travel or route as a whole; thus, Juniata 
thoroughfare^ ov l^fdyuK^J. 

As to the specific names of places, alleys, etc. , 
they should be abolished and these small thorough- 
fares given the names of the parallel large ones 
next to them toward the base lines. Thus Calhoun 
place would be called Washington way place. If 
two or more places, alleys, etc. . follow a thorough- 
fare, they could be numbered 1,2, etc. ; thus, Ash- 
land street alle^' No. 1 ; Ashland street alley No. 
2. The houses in the places, etc.. could be num- 
bered the same as the houses of their thoroughfares; 
thus, 315 Dearborn avenue place would be opposite 
315 Dearborn avenue. Finally the continuations of 
the thoroughfares outside the city limits could be 
called Extensions or Pikes ; thus, G-arfield course ex- 
tension or pike. 

In conclusion it may be proper to state that all 
of the above terms for the large thoroughfares 
within the city limits begin with ditt'erent (phonetic) 
letters and will thus not conflict in writing or 
speech. Moreover thej' are but few in number, 
being only sixteen, and as they are logically ar- 
ranged are quite easily remembered, as may be 
seen from the following recapitulation and plan: 

Lane Road 

Course ^Va}' 

Street Aisle 

Avenue . Terrace 

Bev Acer 

Obe Erv 

Inter Mid 

Div Farter 

V/ t^ 

Mi. E 

As the small thoroughfares (places, alleys, etc.,) 
within the city are located by means of the large 
ones their terms can never conflict with those of 
the latter. The same is true of the continuations 
of the large thoroughfares (extensions or pikes, 
etc.,) without the city. 

In regard to numbering the houses it is probably 
better to adopt the decimal system throughout, the 
same as on the north and south thoroughfares on 
the South Side. In which event the numbering 
should beoiii with 1200 in each part of the city at- 
the second section line from the base line; namely ,^ 
at Twelfth street, North avenue. Cottage Grove 
avenue and Ashland avenue. Then if the thorough- 
fare numbering were eventually extended throughout 
the city the three thoroughfares last named would 
each be numbered Twelve. If five figures were 
found to be too cumbersome, as written at present, 
the decimal point could be used or the house num- 
bers placed higher than the block ones; thus, 115.28 
or 115^", the same as in writing dollars and cents. 
If two or more numbers were at any time written 
the dash could be employed; thus, 115.28 — 115.34 
or 115 2^ — 1153 4. This is a matter, however, that 
will, perhaps, finally correct itself. 

Charles Morrell,